On Friday, former President Jimmy Carter suggested that if Russians had not meddled in the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump would have lost to Hillary Clinton. Therefore, Trump is an illegitimate president. Carter made the remarks at the Jimmy Carter Center in Leesburg, Va. with former Vice President Walter Mondale, in a discussion on human rights moderated by historian Jon Meacham.
“Russia has been proven by our Intelligence Community to have interfered with one of our human rights, which is the right of free and fair elections. What’s your reaction?” Meacham asked Carter.
“Well, the president himself should condemn it, admit that it happened, which I think 16 intelligence agencies already agreed to say,” the former president responded.
“There’s no doubt that the Russians did interfere in the election, and I think the interference — although not yet quantified — if fully investigated, would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016. He lost the election and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf,” Carter declared.
“So do you believe President Trump is an illegitimate president?” Meacham asked.
“Based on what I just said which I can’t retract, I’d say yes,” Carter concluded.
Ironically, Carter has said Democrats should not pursue impeachment. Does this represent a flip-flop on that issue?
Former President Jimmy Carter: If fully investigated, it would show that Trump didn't actually win the election in 2016. He lost the election and he was put in office because the Russians interfered …on his behalf.
🎥 https://t.co/CYSBIK3qHF pic.twitter.com/o71Z4InVxB
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 28, 2019
The claim is ludicrous. Russia’s interference had to do with false news peddled on the Internet and aimed toward dividing Americans, not electing Trump. In fact, many ads supported Black Lives Matter, for instance. While Russia’s 2016 meddling is indeed a very serious issue, there is no evidence to suggest that it made the difference in the election, and Carter presented no evidence to back up his statement.
Yet some Democrats agreed with the former president’s absurd claim.
“If you read Volume I of the Mueller Report, you will agree with the below statement by President Jimmy Carter. Or you can just read the summary to Volume I. Or you can read the tweets of [Republican] Rep [Justin Amash]. Or you can watch the Mueller hearing on July 17,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) tweeted.
If you read Volume I of the Mueller Report, you will agree with the below statement by President Jimmy Carter.
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) June 28, 2019
While Volume I of the Mueller report does indeed show Trump administration officials willing to work with Russians to dig up dirt on Hillary Clinton, it reveals nothing of the sort of claim that Carter made today.
When any former president accuses the sitting president of being “illegitimate,” that is a serious claim, and it must be backed up by a great deal of evidence, not baseless conjecture. Carter’s action in this case is utterly shameful.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.